ALBUM OF THE YEAR AT THE 2003 AUSTRALIAN BLUES AWARDS THE BELLHOPS VOTED 'BAND OF THE YEAR' AT THE 2003 AUSTRALIAN BLUES AWARDS CHECK THESE REVIEWS At last a follow up to the sensational and highly acclaimed debut album 'Room Service'. A smorgasbord of Entrees, Mains and Just Desserts provides a tempting menu that is hotter than raw chili. The Bellhops stamp their status even further as one of Australia's premier blues big bands, opening with a huge swingin' groove in 'Boogie In The Barnyard' then upping the ante further with a hard hitting raunchy jive in 'Hard For Me'. Phew ..... 2 tracks down and I am already won over .... 'Have I Got The Blues For You' features a strong 12 bar groove with some sensational rhythm guitar chops happening in the background and great lead guitar riffs by John Russell, who would have to be one of the most overlooked about yet highly sensational guitar players in Australia. Add to that, a cookin' sax solo and you have your money's worth already in the first three tracks. 'RM Blues' changes the tide with a neat Delta flavoured gelato of dobro and brass sounds, lashed with a semi zydeco rhythm, then John Russell shows his songwriting prowess again (John also penned tracks 2-9-10-11-12) with a catchy 12 bar boogie. Those who have seen The Bellhops live on stage can bear testament to the dynamic energy and entertainment value and will relish in the fact that the same energy and entertainment value has been transferred to CD with this album. Ian Dittman, having penned track 3, takes us on a songwriting journey over the next 3 tracks, 'Taking My Business Elsewhere' being a sultry mood charged slow groove with dynamic hard hitting build ups, and surreal sax and guitar solos. It is described in the liner notes as 'a sombre yet tantalising melange' and I think that sums it nicely. 'Judgement Day' throws in a great jump groove with great vocals and instrument riffs happening thru-out in all the right places, once again John Russell throwing in a scorcher of lead solo. Ditter tops it off with the appropriately named 'Crazy Feet' that will have you jivin' to the sax lashed groove. With such talented songwriters as Dittman and Russell, The Bellhops are already halfway there, and with the addition of an assortment of fine musicians (including themselves), they reach the pinnacles of acclaim that many try for years to climb. Back to the John Russell numbers ... check out the awesome slide intro to the Creedence Clearwater Revival influenced 'Rise & Shine' ... this track kicks some serious butt and with it's hard hitting rocky groove will be a favourite for many. It definitely will be getting plenty of spins on the ol' Radar music machine. 'Trouble Again' takes the listener to the late night Monterey jazz cafes and adds that sultry big band feel for a perfect late night dance. John shows his writing versatility with 'Lord, Lord' which is a hi energy country/zydeco/slow blues blend, featuring pastor Harden on second slide guitar plus Jeff Cripps on drums and harmony vocals. Do you want to know about the remaining three tracks? Of course you don't, because you haven't read this far - you have already rushed out and grabbed a copy so you know how hot they are, especially Don Hopkins dropping in that New Orleans piano groove to 'Curiosity', then Omah Gourd's (try saying this name slowly) vocals in an infectious and comical 'The Sheik (of Bondi Beach)'. All good things must end sometime, but then again you could solve that by pressing 'repeat' after a cookin' rendition of the Rufus Thomas classic 'Walkin' The Dog' which has been roasted in traditional Bellhops style. Well actually there is neat little out-take tucked on at the end that you will have to smile to before the repeat will take effect. This will be the Australian Blues Album of 2002 ... simple as that ... go buy it REVIEW and Copyright by Mark 'radar' Watson (Mr Blues) on 25th January 2002 The Bellhops Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia The Bellhops consist of 7 extremely experienced musicians who are also lovers of Rhythm & Blues and Swing music. The musical sound of the Bellhops falls into the blues 'n' swing style, with some jazz influences, highlighted by vocalist and guitarist, Ian Dittman. Apart from their outstanding original tunes The Bellhops' songlist covers 5 decades of popular music from the Swing and Jive era of the late 40's with numbers from Louis Jordan and Big Joe Turner, the good old 50's Rock'n'Roll from the likes of Chuck Berry, Bill Haley and Jerry Lee Lewis, the 60's Soul and R&B sound of Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett and James Brown, through to the 70's, 80's and 90's with material form The Blues Brothers, The Commitments, Joe Cocker and lots more. Link to Songlist The various band members have all done their time playing in other bands, before coming together in 1990. On stage and fired up, the band's rhythm section of Mark Roulston (bass), Paul Sharpe (drums) and Ian Dittman (rhythm guitar) roll out an infectious beat. Overlaid with the guitar craftsmanship of John Russell and the duelling saxophones of Steve O'Connell, Ed Schots and Bruce Allen, the whole sound truly becomes greater than the sum of the parts. Link to Individual Biographies Survivors of the 1995 Byron Bay Blues Festival and mud fight may have caught The Bellhops with guest guitarist Kirk Lorange. They have also appeared at the 1994 and 1995 Lithgow Blues Festivals. They appeared at the Wilderness Coast Festival at Mallacoota, The Great Southern Blues Festival at Narooma and The Australian Blues Festival at Goulburn. The Bellhops can be found regularly playing around the Sydney, Wollongong and the Illawarra Region, Newcastle and the Central Coast Lakes Region, Goulburn and the Southern Highlands Region. Link to venue list The Bellhops first recording, Live On The Radio was a live to air broadcast roughly 45 minutes long, recorded for the Stormy Monday program at 2MBS FM in 1994 and is available only on cassette by mailing $10 AUD (about $6 USD) to PO Box 553, Regents Park NSW 2143 The Bellhops debut CD release 'Room Service' (available from FULLMOON Records) has received critical acclaim both in Australia and overseas. Has been picked for airplay on the ABC and many regional stations all around Australia as well as the UK, the USA, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Greece and New Zealand. It was also nominated for 'Album of the Year' at the 1998 Australian Blues Music Awards presented at the Australian Blues Music Festival in Goulburn NSW The 2002 release of their new CD 'No Reservations' sees the Bellhops cementing their place as one of Australia's finest exponents of this genre of music. Some very fine song writing coupled with some excellent musicianship make this album a new high point for a band that always delivers the goods. It has selected as 'Album of the Week' on ABC Radio Canberra for the week of 21/1/02 and has been receiving airplay from blues presenters all across Australia. Now with a settled sound and a 2nd CD release under their belts, the Bellhops look set for bigger things. The Bellhops are: Ian Dittman - vocals, guitar; started off playing in the early 70's and refuses to stop doing it. Loves the swing of Louis Jordan, the power of Howling Wolf, the style of Sinatra, the guitar and vocals of Eric Clapton. Most notable Sydney band was The Bruce Band in the early 80's who recorded a single for EMI that nobody ever heard. Has contributed several original compositions which appear on The Bellhops' debut album. Ian is a graphic reproducer by day and so is responsible for some of the more confronting billboards and metrolights one sees around town. Ian has just returned from a trip to the USA, primarily to attend The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, bringing back a dose of new inspiration and an Epiphone Sheraton guitar which he is currently coming to terms with. Mark Roulston - bass, vocals; has played with many bands over the years starting in the early 70's working with The Australian Blues Brothers, The 69'ers, The Plant etc. A consummate bass player feeling quite at home on fretless for a slow blues or slap bass for some of the swinging, jivey numbers. Mark is a complete musician, able to arrange and compose, also a great harmony vocalist. Mark teaches music and is furthering his studies at university. Did you hear the one about the bass player who locked his keys in the car? Luckily he had his mobile phone with him, so he could ring the NRMA to come and let him out. (True story!) John Russell - lead & slide guitars; a wonderful guitarist/musician. John started playing in the late 60's, early 70's and achieved some success initially with a band called Flake who had a hit with 'This Wheel's on Fire' (during the record ban era). They followed this up with a couple of other singles that did quite well. John went on to play with people like Black Feather, Jeff St John, Phil Keyes' Band of Light, BB Strut and countless other combinations. A master of lead, slide and dobro guitars, John is also a very fine songwriter, contributing quite a few numbers on The Bellhops Debut Album. By day John is a mild mannered sales manager. By night he turns into a howling slide guitar player with hairy hands. Watch out if it's a full moon. Paul 'Sticks' Sharpe (no relation to A#Sharp Studios) - drummer, previous bands include Well Swung and The Chick'n Pickers. Paul is currently attending the Jazz course at the Sydney Conservatorium. By day he works in sales for a company in the computer industry. Paul is the most recent member of The Bellhops and is fitting in famously. When other band members tell drummer jokes such as 'What's the difference between a drummer and a vacuum cleaner? You have to plug the vacuum cleaner in before it sucks!', Paul holds his sides firmly to stop them from splitting. Steve O'Connell - saxophone; is an exceptional player who has played with just about everybody within the Sydney scene, previous bands include The Angels, Psycho Zydeco, Bellydance, and many, many more! Steve also wrote most of the horn lines featured on the album and apart from being an absolute bastard is a very nice human being. Steve teaches saxophone as well as playing full time. Bruce Allen - Baritone Saxophone; Bruce first gained recognition with the Dynamic Hepnotics and has gone on to play with people like Ol' 55, The Eddys, Doug Parkinson and many others. Bruce is a full time professional musician and founder of 'Mercenary Bastards Inc' (a nice human being all the same). Ed Shots - Tenor and Baritone Saxophone; Ed first played with the band at the '94 Lithgow Blues Festival when The Bellhops found themselves without a sax player at the last moment. We don't know how we got his number, but the consensus of opinion at the time was 'Shit, I hope he can play!'. Ed has been playing with the band ever since. Originally from the Netherlands, Ed teaches music professionally and is married to the very wonderful Sue, also a professional bass clarinettist extraordinaire. Ed is also creator of 'The Egg' as pictured on the Bellhops Photo Gallery page. Richard Booth (Bootman) - Tenor, Baritone, Alto, Soprano Saxophone; The Bellhops first met Richard at the East Coast Blues Festival 1995 when for various reasons out of their control they found themselves without a tenor player for their second show at the festival. Mark Roulston happened upon a band playing in one of the tents and lo and behold there was this monster sax player from Canberra. Richard has been playing with the band ever since. Richard is an avid collector of vintage saxophones who teaches music professionally and also plays steel drums. What's the difference between a sax player and a lawn mower? One cuts grass and the other smokes it! Some previously satisfied clients of The Bellhops include: The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital The Shop Distributive & Allied Employees Union The Thredbo Chamber of Commerce Benson & Hedges Sceggs College Charles Sturt University The Cancer Council And heres some Venues and Events that have happily hosted The Bellhops Mecure Grand Hotel - Bowral The ANA Hotel - Sydney The Anchorage Resort - Port Stephens The Hilton Hotel - Sydney The Sheraton Wentworth Hotel - Sydney The Rocks Marketing Authority - Sydney Cove Star City Casino - Sydney The Eastcoast Blues & Roots Festival - Byron Bay The Australian Blues Music Festival - Goulburn Malacoota Blues Festival - Malacoota Lithgow Blues festival - Lithgow New Orleans Food & Wine Festival - The Rocks Sydney Queanbeyan Festival - Queanbeyan For further information please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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